February 12, 2004

Looney Tunes Revisited

As a post-post-modern pop culture aficianado kinda mom, I feel that it is vitally important that The Boy be exposed to all sorts of cultural phenomena. Sigh. Okay, you caught me. That first sentence should really read: As a selfish mom-type who enjoys the blatant cartoon violence of Warner Brothers, I don't want to turn the channel just because Yosemite Sam is blowing up everything in creation while The Boy is in the room. So sue me for child abuse.

I mention this because we recently received a Looney Tunes DVD in the mail as a result of upping our satellite channel package (I LOVE Boomerang, and all those extra Discovery and History channels r0x0rz!). The Boy immediately assumed that it was a new video for his collection, and now we begin our day with a healthy dose of cartoon mayhem featuring anthropomorphic animals and a freakishly small bald man. Ahh, brings back fond memories of my childhood. And yes, I still hate that stupid road runner, and wish Sylvester would just eat the damn bird, already. Gah.

But looking at those cartoons through the prism of a two-year old's experience does raise some interesting questions, the most important of which is:

WHERE do they get all those munitions? No, really. Most of the cartoons on this DVD are late 40's through late 50's (before they got all stupid and hip and experimental in the 60s and ruined everything for at least two decades and no I'm not at all bitter, why do you ask?), so are we to believe that after WWII there were just extra mortar rounds for sale via catalog? I ask this question because our conversations with The Boy during a Looney Tunes viewing are as follows:

Foghorn Leghorn blows himself up with a stick of dynamite.

The Boy: What happened?

Hublet: He blew up.

Leghorn blows up again, this time with a land mine.

The Boy: Oh no! What happened?

Me: He blew up.

Leghorn has a mishap with a shotgun.

The Boy: What happened?

Hublet and Me: He blew up again, honey.

The Boy: Rooster blew up AGAIN!

Leghorn tricks himself into playing in traffic.

The Boy: What happened?

Me: He got squished by a car.

The Boy: No blew up again?

Me: Not this time, sweetie. Wait a few minutes.

Vary the main character, but the results are always the same: the shotgun on a string, the clever cannon ploy that always backfires, the landmine or dynamite that seems like a dud until Wyle E Coyote or Yosemite Sam goes back to check on it...stuff is always blowing up REAL GOOD. And you know what? It's still entertaining. The Boy obviously gets the humorous aspect of it even at this early age, shaking his head in mock exasperation and calling the gunpowder charred rooster "silly."

I wonder if blowing stuff up and laughing about it is a uniquely American phenomenon? The EU would probably say so, but they aren't exactly Giants of the Funny, so whatever.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at February 12, 2004 08:41 AM

You know that they have nixed the violence from the syndicated LT's? Like they cut away when Coyote falls? You just hear a 'thud.' That's un-American.

And did anyone on earth ever root for Tweety?

I like my Cartoon Network in France, which edits nothing. They also love Tom and Jerry there--it's their official filler--and have all the episodes, even the ones that now shock me due to their overt racism (there is no mincing around that, frankly). Strange, eh?

Posted by: jkrank at February 12, 2004 04:22 PM

We had the originals when they were released on laser disc--including the WWII propaganda films. I was engrossed--propaganda is fascinating from the point of the future.

There's some reason that this is universally funny--look at commedia dell'arte, or punch & judy shows.

The only caveat I'd say, is that you have to watch the toons with your kid and comment on them in many different ways.

Cheers-I like stopping by to hear about your life.

Posted by: liz at February 13, 2004 02:05 AM